It' s the ninth anniversary of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign. The theme this year is "Human Rights for Women - Human Rights for All." It tells us that if we abuse women, we also abuse human rights.
Over the past years, the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign has been asking people to say NO to violence against women and children. It aims to make people aware of the harmful effects of violence on women and children, and on society as a whole.
During this time, there have also been ongoing support programmes to remind people for 365 days of the year to act against violence and abuse. These programmes are part of a National Action Plan which includes all government departments and other partners.
The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children is an international campaign, which was started by the United Nations. It is held every year between 25 November (International Day Against Violence Against Women) and 10 December (International Human Rights Day).
The two dates were chosen to link violence against women and human rights, because such violence is also a violation of human rights.
The aims of the 2008 campaign include:
making people more aware of the harmful effects of violence against women and children;
encouraging abusers to change their behaviour to non-violence;
reaching out to women and children who are victims of abuse, especially in rural areas;
highlighting the stories of survivors of violence.
In South Africa, this year's campaign will continue to focus on rural areas. It will encourage men and boys to be part of the campaign by making others aware of the message of no violence.
During 2006 and 2007, the Farm Workers Awareness Programme was started in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. It focused on women and children living and working on farms.
As part of the programme, community-based organisations and non-governmental organisations helped to spread the message.
Last year's campaign also included the Million Men's March, which was aimed at creating greater awareness among men and boys.
All of us can make a difference. Let us support the campaign by wearing the white ribbon during the 16-days period. Let us also act against abuse by blowing the whistle on abusers and let us help victims by encouraging them to seek help.
- Mbulelo Baloyi